According to recent, prominent studies, nearly two thirds of American adults do not have a formal estate plan set up.

For those in the minority who have prepared a living trust, will, or other estate documents, you’re one step ahead. However, just because you’ve established these initial steps doesn’t necessarily mean your estate plan is settled. A thorough estate plan requires continual updating as circumstances change. Even if you have been good about making updates, there are crucial components you may have overlooked. Designating beneficiaries and decision makers for retirement accounts or life insurance policies are a prime example.

Your designated beneficiaries and decision makers are living people, so it’s important to consider what may also happen to them. Even the most well thought out plans can go awry, but proper consideration of all potential scenarios can play a large role in ensuring your wishes stay intact after you’re gone.

How to do an estate sale

Are Backup Decision Makers Necessary?

Short answer: Yes. A proper estate plan lines up multiple decision makers to carry out your wishes.

You should put careful thought into determining which individuals to appoint as decision makers. They’ll need to be trusted, as important decisions regarding your affairs will come their way. It’s also possible that at some point, they will no longer have the capacity or willingness to carry out the decisions asked of them. This is where backup individuals are important. We recommend having at least two backups for each of the above positions.

People, and your perception of them, can change over time. Some of these changes will impact their capacity to fulfill your last wishes. For instance, the person you initially designate as trustee might turn out to lack knowledge of finances. This raises a red flag, because they’ll be the one handling your money after you’re gone. And if your designated guardian turns out to be not so great with children, you’d want to reconsider who you appoint to take care of your kids.

There doesn’t need to be any suspicious behavior to influence a decision maker change. Often times, something as predictable as age plays a factor. Somebody who you designated as a guardian when they were in their 40’s may not be as fit for the position in their 60’s. On the same token, someone too young to appoint as a guardian now may be ideal in ten or so years.

A backup decision-maker is also necessary to replace one that dies, becomes disabled, or expresses that they no longer wish to take on the responsibility of a designated position.

The main thing you should takeaway is to continually check in on your choices for designated decision makers and name backups when necessary. Alternatives act as a fail-safe to ensure that people you love and trust – not the courts – end up making decisions on your behalf after you’re gone.

Who Will Look After Your Pets?

Your furry, feathered, and even scaled friends are part of your family. Often, they require more day-to-day attention and care than children. So who will take care of them when you’re no longer around?

Pets are certainly not overlooked in your daily life. Some sleep on the bed, eat like royalty, and get groomed handsomely. But it’s possible that your pets weren’t given much thought in the midst of planning your estate with an attorney. After all, there’s a lot on your mind during the process.

Believe it or not, you can name a legal guardian for your pets after you’re gone. Similar to other designated positions, it’s helpful to have backups lined up if your first guardian choice doesn’t work out. Additionally, you can include information on how they can find a suitable home or shelter to be surrendered to in the case that no one can care for your pet. Aside from addressing who the caretaker will be, it’s beneficial to write out your wishes for how your pet should be cared for. This way, the designated guardian will know all of the animal’s quirks, medications, allergies, and their favorite spot to be rubbed.

Are your Contingent Beneficiaries Lined Up?

A named beneficiary is the individual within your estate plan who will inherit your monetary and property assets when you die. When you pass and your estate is administered, your assets are distributed or managed by your designated beneficiaries. Some instances require a contingent (backup) beneficiary.

If you do not have a contingent beneficiary in these scenarios, your assets may be dealt with according to state law. This often involves enacting the probate process. This lengthy process can delay asset distribution, lead to increased settling costs, and cause family infighting. To avoid these unfavorable outcomes, it’s best to designate one or more contingent beneficiaries for the benefit of everyone.

Always Think of the Unthinkable

It’s not fun to think about, but you should be prepared for the unthinkable situation where all the loved ones you designate as beneficiaries pass away before you.

Yes, it’s highly unlikely, but it’s happened before. In this case, having contingent beneficiaries will not suffice because nobody will legally be able to accept the assets in your estate. Depending on your state of residence, if you have no surviving beneficiaries, the government could obtain all your money and property by default.

Even though it’s uncommon, this scenario could afflict those with few living relatives. By adding a family disaster plan or remote contingent beneficiary to your estate documentation, you are able to designate a charity or organization that will receive your assets.

Preparing Your Estate for the Unexpected

Unexpected life events can often prompt people to take action on their estate plan. At the very least, one should have a basic will, but many people still put off accounting for their assets once they’re gone. Procrastination, a perceived lack of money and property, and concern for the cost and energy required to implement an estate plan can turn some away from the process.

The estate planning process is not as costly or intensive as you may think, especially when hiring a knowledgeable estate sale lawyer. And considering the cost of NOT having an estate plan, it would be selfish to leave your surviving family with the burden. Not to mention, your hard-earned assets could end up in the government’s hands if not prepared adequately. For those who have already taken steps to secure their estate plan, this is a great start. With effective back-ups to weather the unexpected, your life plan will be able to determine who will make decisions, take care of your pets, and inherit your assets after you have deceased.

No matter where you are in the estate planning process, we encourage you to reach out to our real estate lawyers to ensure that everything you worked for in your life goes to the people you love and trust. Contact Anderson, Dorn, and Rader to begin your journey to peace of mind for you and your family’s future.

Generational wealth is often the means by which families retain economic status and live comfortably over time. Family members before you worked throughout their lives to make a living, care for their assets, and pass some of that down to the next generation: you. In the event that you are expecting an inheritance, do you have the proper measures in place to confidently acquire and manage it?

Estate planning plays an integral roll in maximizing an expected inheritance by laying out how it will be used by your family in the future. Expert research analyses predict that the largest transfer of wealth in history will occur over the next several decades. However, with an uncertain economic climate and a trend towards spending over saving, heirs of inheritances often spend, lose, or donate large portions of what they receive. Planning for inherited wealth can help you anticipate and prepare for these instances, while sill protecting the legacy left to you. With an expertly-crafted inheritance plan, you are helping to ensure financial security for you and your family.

Family Estate PlanningSometimes, our emotions guide our financial decisions, rather than logic. The feelings surrounding the transfer of an inheritance are often unsettling – grief, guilt, anger, confusion. It’s difficult to consider the facts and hard numbers associated with the passing of a loved one. Not to mention, there are lengthy procedures one has to go through to legally confirm the transfer of wealth. It’s important to stay level-headed during the decisions that could affect you and your family’s financial well-being.

An inheritance can be an unexpected stroke of good fortune in a time of loss. Since our brains often classify them as “found” money rather than “earned” money, inheritances don’t tend to be utilized as conservatively as the money we work for. That’s why most inheritances are drained within just five years. A failure to realize the implications of careless spending can get us accustomed to living a lifestyle above our means, only to have it disappear as quickly as it came.

A sudden acquisition of assets and cash can greatly affect you and your family’s life. When handled correctly, you’ll respect the legacy of your loved ones that came before you. When caught unprepared though, you could be burdened by tax payments, careless spending repercussions, and even creditor issues.

Before any pen & paper planning begins, it’s best to have a conversation with your loved ones while they are still living and mentally fit. It can be awkward to talk about what happens to assets after one passes, but go in with the frame of mind that each party will be helping each other. The benefactor will be giving you vital information and consent, and you will be giving them peace of mind that their legacy will live on. By discussing their hopes of how the inheritance will be used after they pass, you’ll get a better understanding which you can use in the planning process.

Inheritance Planning

Using the conversations with loved ones as your guide, it’s crucial to then meet with a financial planner and an estate planning attorney to discuss the amount and types of assets you anticipate inheriting. There are nuances to the processes in which you’ll handle various types of assets. For example, inherited real estate is handled much differently than inherited stocks and bonds. An estate planning attorney can also help you understand the distribution schedule to receive the assets. It could be all at once, in installments, or custom-configured based on a will. Not to mention, a financial planner can help you navigate the taxes associated with your inheritance.

Life happens, and a legacy left to you by a loved one can alter the vision of your financial picture. Anderson, Dorn, & Rader are your trusted team of estate planning lawyers and financial planners in Reno.

If your family is expecting an inheritance, wants to update estate plans, or has questions about the planning process, give our office a call so we can help you maximize your windfall and honor the loved ones that worked hard to pass on their good fortune to you.

fiduciaryLaypeople often think about estate planning as something that is resolved after you execute certain documents. While it is true that you must state your final wishes in writing, you should also consider the estate administration process that will unfold after you are gone.

In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to administer the vehicle when the time comes, and your heirs would be the beneficiaries. It is possible to use someone that you know personally to act as the trustee, but it is not a ceremonial role that you bestow upon someone as an honor.

The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the grantor and the beneficiaries. This means that the administrator must always act in the best interests of the parties that are involved.

There are very specific rules that must be followed to administer the trust in accordance with legal standards, and this is one thing to take into consideration. You should also be concerned about the longevity of the trustee and potential real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Depending on the nature of the assets, the trustee may be called upon to handle investments, and this is another level of responsibility that requires considerable expertise. The administrator that you choose must also have the time and the willingness to undertake all of these tasks.

Professional Fiduciary Services

In a real sense, finding the ideal trustee among your immediate contacts is kind of like the search for the mythical unicorn. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you are making a connection with a professional fiduciary that you can rely on for top-notch trust administration services right now.

AD&R can assume this role after you pass away if you want to be certain that your living trust is administered in accordance with professional standards. This is a major area of specialization for our firm, and we should point out the fact that we can act as the trustee for more complex types of trusts.

The Special Needs Trust is an example of a complex trust. This would be an irrevocable trust, and the beneficiary would not be allowed to touch the principal at all. However, the trustee that you name in the declaration would be empowered to use assets in the trust to make the beneficiary more comfortable in many different ways. As you may imagine, the rules and regulations are complex, so the trustee must understand them thoroughly to preserve benefit eligibility.

You definitely do not want to take any chances when the stakes are this high, and very few people that are not professionals have any knowledge about the way that a special needs trust should be administered. This is where we can enter the picture to provide fiduciary services.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

Our doors are open if you would like to consult with our professional fiduciary. You can send us a message to request an appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455.

 

trust attorneys trusteeWhen you find out all the facts about last wills, you will probably be interested in alternatives. What’s wrong with a will as an asset transfer vehicle? The short answer is that that a will must be admitted to probate, which is a costly, time-consuming legal process. You can also add in a number of other drawbacks that we will cover in a future post.

A revocable living trust would be a better choice for most people. If you are concerned about losing control of assets that you convey into a trust, you can set them aside. You can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living if you create this type of trust, so you call the shots.

In a very real sense, the situation is the same as it would be if you still had all the assets in your own name. Yes, you sign them over to the trust, but you are the trustee with unlimited latitude to do whatever you want to do with the resources. You also have the power to revoke the trust at any time.

For these reasons, a living trust would not be the right choice for people that want to separate themselves from personal possession of the assets for one reason or another. This is done through the utilization of irrevocable trusts of different kinds.

The ultimate point of the trust is to serve as an estate planning device, so you have to account for the events that will take place after you are gone. To this end, you name a successor trustee, and you name your heirs as the successor beneficiaries. Postmortem asset transfers would not be subject to probate, so the drawbacks that we touched upon would be avoided.

Many people would say this is the major benefit, but there are a number of others. When assets have been conveyed into a living trust, the estate administration process is simplified, because the resources are conveniently consolidated.

To elaborate on the consolidation factor, even if you intend to convey assets that will be part of your estate into the trust, you may still have property in your direct possession at the time of your passing. You can account for this through the inclusion of a pour over will. This type of will allows the trust to absorb these assets; they are “poured over” into the living trust.

You can empower a disability trustee to assume the role if you ever become incapacitated, and this is a key feature, because incapacity strikes a very significant percentage of elders. Another benefit is the ability to add a spendthrift clause to protect a beneficiary that may be prone to irresponsible spending.

Choosing a Trustee

Like everything else within the realm of estate planning, there is no single answer to questions that people typically ask, because it all depends on the circumstances. When it comes to choosing a living trust trustee, the details make a difference. However, we will provide generalities here.

Legally speaking, the trustee can be any adult that is of sound mind that is willing to assume the role. However, administering a trust is going to require a significant level of financial acumen.

The trustee must have the time that it takes to do the job, and the commitment can be considerable in some cases. You also have to be concerned about conflicts of interest and anticipated longevity. There are certain rules that must be followed under the laws of the state of Nevada, and this is another consideration.

If you don’t know a willing, suitable candidate, or if the administration of your trust is going to be an ongoing, complex task, there is a solution. You could use a corporate trustee like a trust company or the trust section of a bank. When you go this route, a licensed financial professional will be at the helm to manage the trust effectively, and there will be inherent oversight.

Schedule a Consultation Right Now!

We are here to help if you would like to discuss your estate planning goals with a licensed attorney. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455.

 

When it comes to estate planning there are several types of tools you can use, depending on your circumstances. One such estate planning tool to protect your estates beneficiaries from future potential family law matters, or other creditor situations, it to leave their inheritance in a Trust Share.

Purpose of Trust Shares

A Trust Share can be created for each beneficiary of your estate after an individual’s death, or the second death of a joint couple. The Trust Share is a legal entity that has its own tax identification number.  A Trust Share prevents the trust beneficiary from commingling assets with a spouse directly because the assets are held in Trust Share.  A Trust Share prevents an inheritance from being transmuted into a spouse’s community property, which could be lost in a subsequent family law matter.  A Trust Share provides for marital harmony after the death of a loved one because it eliminates the conversation between a beneficiary and their spouse on whether they are going to deposit an inheritance into a joint account because the Trust Share doesn’t allow that as an option.

The Trust Share also provides flexibility with trust asset management. Typically, if a beneficiary is responsible with financial assets the creator of the Trust Share will allow them to be their own Trustee and manage the trust funds for their own benefit.  Generally, the distribution standard for a Trust Share is for health, education, maintenance, and support.  If a beneficiary is not responsible with financial asset a safeguard can be put in place with an Independent Trustee that can be a responsible family member or Professional Trustee.  This creates checks and balances, so assets are not wasted with frivolous spending.

Trust Shares also allow you to set a minimum age of when a beneficiary such as a child or grandchild can serve as their own Trustee. We have found with experience that the age of 25 or 30 is much better than 21 given work experience and life experience.

Trust shares can even have a re-write power when it comes to looking at how assets will be passed to grandchildren. You could leave a Trust Share to your child and provide them with a re-write power known as a Limited Power of Appointment to decide how the assets from their Trust Share will be divided at their death among their heirs.

Consult with an Estate Planning Professional

While Estate planning can be complicated, it is essential in protecting yourself and your loved one’s financial future. Give us a call at 775-823-9455 to make a free consultation with an estate planning attorney and see how we can help protect your legacy and your family.

Authored by: Aaron Squires

The Do's and Dont's Of a Personal Representative in Nevada from Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd.

 

When a Nevada resident dies leaving property owned solely in his or her name, that person's property will be required to go through a probate process. Learn more about personal representative in Nevada in this presentation.

Legal guardianship provisions for minor children
If you have any children under the age of 18, it is important that you at least have a will, including provisions designating who you would want to be the guardian(s) of your children, should anything happen to you.  Legal guardianship provisions for minor children are an important part of estate planning.
The basics of the last will and testament
A last will and testament is basically used to make dispositions of your property at the time of your death.  Another purpose of a will is to appoint someone to manage your estate and to appoint someone as guardian of your minor children.  Without a will, your property will be distributed to your family following the laws of intestate succession in your state.  Your closest relatives usually receive equal shares depending on the law's pre-determined priority system.
Establishing legal guardianship of minors with your will
When one spouse or parent dies, the surviving spouse or parent will automatically be the child's legal guardian unless that person's parental rights have already been terminated.  Should both parents die at the same time, or nearly the same time, a guardian named in a will would become responsible for the child's care absent a court's determination that it is not in the child's best interest to have legal guardianship awarded to the person you designated.   The presumption under the law is that the person you designate as your desired guardian of your minor children is the most appropriate choice. 
Be sure to consider both present and future circumstances
When you are considering who should be named as legal guardian for your children, take into consideration the age, health and location of the potential individuals.  You must also recognize that these factors will probably change in the future.  For this reason, it is a good idea to select both primary and secondary guardians, should there be anything preventing your primary guardians from serving in that role.  These designations should be reviewed at least every 2 years. 
Make sure the legal guardians will have everything they need
In order to properly care for your children after you are gone your guardians will need to have access to financial assets, as well.   Generally, it is most advantageous to accomplish this through the creation of a revocable living trust that is funded while you are alive.   Using this technique your assets avoid the probate process upon your death and the person you designate as the successor trustee under the trust has access to the financial assets and the authority to make distributions to or for the benefit of your minor children without the probate court's involvement.   The successor trustee may be the person you designate as your guardian, or it could be someone else if you feel someone other than the guardian is best suited to manage the financial decision-making.   This can also be established through a testamentary trust created under a will, but then the assets would need to go through probate and the court will retain ongoing jurisdiction over the trust.   The costs associated with administering a testamentary trust are generally much higher than those involved with the administration of a living trust after your death. 
What happens if you do not nominate a guardian?
If you do not include guardianship provisions in your will, or establish a trust, the appointment of a legal guardian will be made by the probate court.  Although it is the judge's responsibility to ensure the best interests of the child are met, the decision may not coincide with your own wishes.  That is why being proactive and creating an estate plan is the best solution for you and your family.
If you have questions regarding legal guardianship, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.
 

iphone-16x9

The Case of the iPhone Will

In the case In re Estate of Karter Wu (Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia), Mr. Wu created and stored his Last Will and Testament on an iPhone, along with a series of other documents, most of them final farewells.

Wu’s iPhone Will named an executor and successor, set forth how he wished to dispose of his assets at death, dealt with his entire estate, and authorized the executor to deal with his financial affairs. The Will began with the words “This is the Last Will and Testament of Karter Wu.” At the end of the document, Wu typed his name where the testator would normally sign his name, followed by the date and his address. The Australian court admitted the Will to probate.
The law for the execution of a valid Will in Queensland, Australia, is set forth in the Succession Act of 1981. The Act provides the requirements for execution, however, it provides that, if the court is satisfied that a person intended a document to form his Will, then the document shall be considered a Will as long as it purports to state his testamentary intentions. Australian law defines a “document” to include any disc, tape, article, or any materials from which writings are able to be produced or reproduced. Citing a New South Wales, Australia, case that held a Word document stored on a laptop computer to be a document, the court held the electronic record on the iPhone was a document for purposes of the statute. Since the record contained on the iPhone named an executor, authorized the executor to deal with his financial affairs, and provided for the distribution of Wu’s entire estate at a time he was contemplating his imminent death, the court held that it met the requirements of the Succession Act 1981.
California Probate Code § 6110 provides that a Will shall be in writing and signed by the testator, or signed in the testator’s name by some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction, or by a conservator pursuant to court order. The Will must have the signatures of two witnesses. If the Will does not meet these requirements, it shall be treated as if it did meet the requirements if the proponent of the Will establishes by clear and convincing evidence that, at the time the testator executed the Will, he or she intended the document to be his or her Will.
Similarly, New Jersey law provides at N.J.S. 3B:3-2 that a document or writing is treated as complying with the normal rules for executing a Will if the proponent of the writing establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended the document to constitute the decedent’s Will.
The California and New Jersey statutes are based on § 2-503 of the Uniform Probate Code. The impetus for the enactment of this section of the Uniform Probate Code may have been a case where an attorney attempted to probate the unsigned draft of a Will of a decedent who was killed in the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001.
California Probate Code § 6130 further provides: “a writing in existence when a Will is executed may be incorporated by reference if the language of the Will manifests this intent and describes the writing sufficiently to permit its identification. California Probate Code § 6131 states: “a Will may dispose of property by reference to acts and events that have significance apart from their effect upon the dispositions made by the Will, whether the acts or events occur before or after the execution of the Will or before or after the testator’s death. . . .”
Recently, a Will was admitted to probate in California where the Will referred to the disposition of assets in accordance with recordings that the decedent had left, both prior to the execution of the Will and would leave after the execution of the Will, on his answering machine at his residence. The judge found that the recordings constituted a writing within the meaning of the California Probate Code and were to be incorporated by reference and were to be considered to be acts of independent significance. Therefore, the recordings were given effect with regard to the disposition of property as governed by the Will.
While the existence of these statutes in many states have broadened what may be admitted as a Will for probate, it is not a good idea to rely on these statutes to assure that one’s Will will be accepted by the local probate court. Having a Will drafted by an attorney experienced in estate planning and drafting is always the best course of action to assure there will be no problems with the disposition of one’s estate at death.
Furthermore, there are many reasons why one may not wish to subject his or her estate to probate upon death, including potential additional costs, delays in administration, and the publicity of both the extent of the decedent’s wealth and the identification of the beneficiaries of the estate. There are many ways to avoid a probate administration at death, including the execution and funding of a revocable or irrevocable trust during the individual’s lifetime.
For more information about the ways to avoid probate, contact our law office. Our office focuses on estate planning, probate administration, and methods to avoid probate for those who have a desire to do so. We work with clients of all wealth levels and ages. As a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, our firm is kept up-to-date with information regarding estate planning and estate and trust administration strategies. You can get more information about scheduling a complimentary estate planning appointment and our planning and administration services by calling Gerald M. Dorn, Esq. at (775) 823-9455

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